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YEREVAN, MARCH 3, ARMENPRESS: Armenian energy minister Armen Movsisian announced today that a joint Russian-Armenian Hayrusgazard company was recognized the winner of a tender announced late last year for construction of the Armenian section of Iran-Armenian gas pipeline. The project’s subcontractor is Iranian company Sanir, which will supply pipes and other equipment.

Movsisian said he was lately in Iran and saw that all preparatory work was completed. He said field work and digging pipeline trenches will kick off in late March. Pipes are expected to arrive in Armenia in June to be followed by assembling work.

In response to a question whether Armenia has enough political resource to push ahead the idea of transiting Iranian natural gas to Georgia and Ukraine in defiance of Russia’s Gazprom that may increase drastically the price of Russian gas supplied to Armenia, Movsisian said the technical parameters of the would-be pipeline do not allow it, but added if such a question arises a parallel pipeline may be built.

“Today, thanks to the policy of Armenian president we are able to maintain privileged prices of Russian gas, which ships it to Armenia at a price that does not differ from Russian domestic price,” he said, adding that Armenia is a sovereign country and “if it finds that transit of Iranian gas to Georgia, Ukraine and further to Europe would be economically more profitable, it will find political resource to push it ahead.”

Movsisian denied allegations that Armenia is facing external pressure in connection with the Iran-Armenian pipeline. He refused to comment on its possible fate in case of escalation of Iran-USA standoff.

The agreement was signed in Yerevan last May. Under it the pipeline should be operative by 2007, January 1. Over next 20 years Iran will deliver to Armenia 36 billion cubic meters of natural gas, the bulk of which will be used for electricity production, which will be shipped to Iran as payment. In the first stage of the project 100 km-long pipeline will be built in Iran and then the 41 km-long section in Armenia.

The total cost of the project is between $200-$250 million. Hayrusgazard is the sole supplier of Russian gas to Armenia. Armenian government and Russian Gazprom hold each 45 percent of its shares, and ten percent is owned by Russian Itera.

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